Sustainable Construction Benefits All

Written by Scott Beckman, Director of Sustainability at PCL Construction

Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted with permission from PCL. For more great articles and industry insights, visit

Client-Focused Solutions Deliver Exceptional Results

In response to the significant environmental challenges the world is facing, there is a focus on sustainable development and green building solutions that minimize the impact of the built environment on the planet.  Building owners and developers are demanding higher levels of green which includes the pursuit of LEED, WELL, Living Building Challenge, Passive House, Envision and Zero Carbon Building Standard certifications.

To meet these client demands, design and construction teams must develop real, tangible, solutions.  Our in-house experts have the knowledge and resources to help building owners and consultants deliver impactful solutions through the development of high-performance buildings and infrastructure that limit environmental impact while improving occupant comfort and well-being. 

Bringing Value During the Build

Our sustainable construction experts have detailed knowledge of the sourcing, installation process, and durability of materials on projects.  This invaluable expertise positions us to recommend and procure materials and finishes that meet sustainability requirements and performance and cost goals.  This knowledge is key to achieving some of the more rigorous building certifications such as Living Building Challenge where projects must meet the International Living Future Institute’s Red List of banned substances.

We have robust supply-chain relationships with material suppliers and trade contractors who bring deep knowledge of the real-world performance record of various materials and construction methods.  In some cases, we have a deeper ongoing relationship with the client than the designer.  This provides formal and informal opportunities to offer expert consultation with a view toward meeting the client’s sustainability needs.  Our estimating and cost engineering experience supports in-depth review and analysis of design options, allowing us to recommend solutions that meet budgets while delivering on sustainability goals.

Contractors like PCL can contribute significant expertise to develop optimal, sustainable solutions.  When we’re brought onboard to work with the design team during conceptual and early schematic design, the results can be truly remarkable.  Our early engagement on a recent mass timber project allowed our preconstruction team to suggest design changes to optimize the bay sizing, based on an analysis of span capacity of the beams and cross-laminated timber panel thickness.  This early involvement resulted in the most cost-effective implementation of mass timber for the project.

Our wide breadth of industry experience across various market sectors allows us to develop surprising solutions that at first glance might seem unrelated to sustainability.  On a recent project, our team reviewed a proposed building program and space layout and recommended changes that resulted in more efficient use of materials while also expanding the rentable space of the building.  These changes boosted the value of the building because they directly increased the net operating income.  The budget savings allowed the owner to invest in additional sustainable features.

Building a Better Future Together

Our commitment to sustainability in our day-to-day operations and services we deliver helps us transform communities for the better across North America, Australia, and the Caribbean.  We all have a role to play in creating a green, healthy and climate-resilient built environment.  This includes taking steps to reduce carbon emissions, moving toward a circular economy and protecting biodiversity.  Through collaboration with designers and building owners and incorporating innovative practices during design and construction, we can generate valuable and cost-effective solutions to address these challenges while delivering exceptional projects and value for our clients.

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About the Author

Scott Beckman is a director and team leader with more than two decades of diverse experience in sustainable design, construction and renewable energy.  With a focus on the built environment, Scott is adept at working with building owners, designers, contractors, engineers, and agencies to identify opportunities for sustainability and high-performance construction.  He served as project manager and leader for LEED for new construction services on over one million square feet of new construction, including complex laboratory, school, and healthcare projects.

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About PCL Construction

PCL is a group of independent construction companies that carries out work across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and in Australia. These diverse operations in the civil infrastructure, heavy industrial, and buildings markets are supported by a strategic presence in 31 major centers. Together, these companies have an annual construction volume of more than $6 billion USD, making PCL one of the largest contracting organizations in North America. Watch us build at